It is commonly assumed that juvenile records are “confidential,” or “sealed.”  If your child has been charged with an offense as a juvenile, you may think, “Oh my child doesn’t need an attorney, because none of this counts in real life.”  This is a dangerous misconception, and just one of the many reasons why you should consult an attorney if you are a juvenile, or the parent of a juvenile, who is involved in the juvenile system.

The juvenile system can have very real consequences in your child’s life, and in your life.  Your child may be required to meet with a juvenile case worker, attend counseling or drug and alcohol classes, complete community service, or more.  These may all seem like decent and reasonable activities for your child to engage in, but let’s also consider the harsher end of the spectrum: your child may be subject to a court-ordered removal from the home, and placement in a treatment facility.  And the juvenile court’s authority over your child does not end when he or she turns 18 years old – it can last until your child turns 21.

Juvenile records are not entirely confidential.  Colleges may ask about any involvement in the juvenile system on entrance applications.  And perhaps even more intrusive, armed services recruiters will most certainly ask about involvement.  I once spoke with a U.S. Marine Corps recruiter who informed me that, in the eyes of the Marine Corps, a youth is considered guilty if charged, because “The police report is the truth.”

If your child is charged with a sex offense as a juvenile, he or she may end up being required to register as a sexual offender.

There are also instances where a juvenile may be charged as an adult.  Adult charges are not confidential, are not sealed, and are available to be viewed online by the general public.  This can impact numerous future life events, including employment opportunities, background clearances, and professional certifications.  Depending on the resolution of the case, your child may be eligible to have that record expunged.

An attorney can be extremely helpful in navigating these processes, minimizing the long term consequences, and educating you and your child on how to avoid future involvement in the juvenile system.  The attorneys at Salvatore & Morton have a solid understanding of the rules, statutes, local practices, and nuances of the juvenile system.  Don’t wait until it’s too late – call now to make an appointment!